Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Al Ain Zoo, and Bur Dubai, with kids on a car trip from Muscat, Oman

So the trip to UAE over the long weekend was long and stressful (car trips with kids always are), but they loved Al Ain zoo...despite the fact that the zoo is way more expensive, and way less accessible than it was three years ago. Three years ago I didn't have to pay 80-100 rial for a "safari" for my kids to see the African animals, and all. Renting an SUV or truck was not part of the Al Ain zoo experience back then. Things have changed....so I don't know if I'll go again. It was a lot of walking, and is pretty far to travel for the limited number of animals that we saw. [Zoo admission for two adults, and 2 kids was 8.596, which isn't bad, but a SUV rental is 100 OMR to see the African zone, or 70 for a truck, which means kids under 6 can't go into that zone if you aren't willing to spend at least 83 omr on top of admission and such now].

Thankfully, the giraffes remain.

The kids loved the giraffes because they still get to feed the giraffes. My oldest even wore her "giraffe dress" because she knew she would get to feed the giraffes. [A cup full of carrots costs 3.224 OMR according to our bank statement and is totally worth it, according to my kids].
Other animals that we saw were birds, cheetahs, hyenas, a leopard, lizards, ostriches, and Arabian animals, like the Oryx, mountain goats, and gazelles. Not that many, to be honest. Enough to satisfy my kids, but they were so sad they didn't see gorillas, or a lion. My son had his heart set on a lion. I would have paid another ten rias for him to see lion, but not another 100.

On the bright side, he did seem to like the park, and all the fake water stuff.

Omani kids, I tell ya.
My daughter did seem to like the flamingos a lot. Do you remember when Muscat used to have flamingos everywhere? Sigh.
 The head-butting goats were a fun distraction for my son.
We left after it got dark. The new entrance/exit is confusing though. So probably that is my last trip to Al Ain zoo.

In Al Ain the next day we ate at this restaurant called "Moroccan Beauty".  I ordered the "Barkook Tagine", and "Harira" soup, my husband ordered some chicken with cous-cous dish, and the kids had french fries. We also had mint tea, and I ordered a chicken pastry with cinnamon. My tagine was really, really delicious, and they served it with bread. As far as decor went, it was super basic, but the service was fine (I read some online reviews of the place and other people complain about the servers and the place being dirty) but our Filipino lady server and the Moroccan guys were totally fine. Because it was around 2 in the afternoon, this may be different than the typical evening experience, I dunno, but we ate inside, and loved our food. The barkook  lamb tagine was divinely delicious, so I could forgive that the harira was kind of boring, and that the pastry was only decent. That's my review. I loved my tangine.
For our day in Dubai, I wanted to go to Bur Dubai. Most Omani families don't do Bur Dubai and my Omani husband never had. We exchanged some rials (Al Ain you don't really need Dirhams) and made sure to get coins for parking, and then parked near the Abra water taxi station. This is pretty close to the Dubai Museum and all that. Then we walked along the water of the creek (which is much cooler than the street side, through the souq, to Fahidi street/the old Bastakiyia District (which is my favorite part of Dubai).
 As one might assume, it was pretty hot, and it is better to go at 4pm, but I like it when less tourists are there, so I made everyone sweat, and will not apologize for it. When I was a kid in Oman, I'd go here when I was renewing my visit-visas. It was a little bit less polished than it is now, but still, kudos to the Dubai Restoration and Heritage Society. You guys are amazing and make Oman look soooooooooo BAD. We have more heritage sites, but out way or preserving basic living, not forts? Totally underdeveloped, that's for sure. Bastakiyia District is a lesson for Oman.
Now, being that we were dragging three kids with us, we skipped some of the sites we'd like to have seen, and others that we didn't want to see, like the coin and stamp museums. We did risk time in the coffee museum, and had Emirati qhahwa there. My son also ate very stale dusty popcorn from a display there as well, so we quickly left, alas, before seeing it all.
We passed the galleries, and the hotels, like the Orient, and the XVA, and went on looking for the restaurants, since obviously, my toddlers were hungry.
Passing the shops and art galleries, we came to this particular restaurant, whose name I actually do not recall, but it is super close to the Mosque, and the cultural center that gives tours of the Mosque to non-Muslims. It's decor is beautiful, but our food experience was limited because our kids only ordered fruit cocktails, french fries, and a fruit plate lol, so it is hard to know the menu from that...

I can say, my Turkish coffee, and the Iranian sweets were good (and I usually hate Iranian sweets).
After this, we drove to Dubai, where we (mostly me) had lunch in Dubai Mall  (I wanted to go to Angelina's for hot chocolate and cake and mousse). My kids loved the sharks. I took no more photos. We also went to Al Ain Mall just before heading back to Oman over the Hilli border, since my husband's friend lives there. In Al Ain mall, for ten dirhams, my daughter and I rented skates,  and bought socks, and went skating. My husband, his friend, and the toddlers, had lunch at Paul's. Then came the long, arduous, screaming/crying/complaining/fighting filled drive back to Oman:).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why I have to go to UAE this long weekend...instead of staying in Oman

I promised my kids that when I bought a car that did not have the iffiest-maybe-I-will-start-today-ignition and worst AC ever, that I would take them to Al Ain zoo...because Barka Zoo is kind of sad, and stinky. Don't get me wrong, I think the owner of Barka Zoo does the best he can, and with a little government support, maybe Barka zoo could be something to be proud of and not...ashamed of. But until that day arrives, Al Ain it is. Going to the Zoo is an experience every little kid loves.
 My husband booked us a place with a shared public pool so the kids will like that too. In Oman this costs at least 80 omr a day, and in UAE this costs 80 omr for two days, go figure.
My oldest is looking forward to feeding Giraffes carrots. I am looking forward to cake and hot chocolate at Angelina's in Dubai mall. We have a birthday to celebrate and that is my excuse. I also must get some Moroccan food.
Maybe we'll check out the XVA courtyard cafe in Bur Dubai. I love the old Fahidi street/Bastakia  quarter...although a dinner/dhow cruise is definitely not the thing for my kids.
We'll probably walk through the old souq, and I don't know what else for the kids. There is a coffee house/tea house to find that looks good.
I like the Moroccan/Afghani/Iranian/Egyptian parts of the global market... I also need to eat Moroccan. I miss Moroccan....Oman it is tragically expensive, or a shisha joint so...;). And the majlis gallery in Fahidi has a lot of paintings I like:
Also, I heard that friday the souq in Al Ain is great for locally made handicrafts so we'll see.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

OOTD: An abaya in a different colour, and my Omani husband visits a real garden

...As already mentioned in a previous post somewhere, I bought what appeared to be a navy blue abaya from Lulu. It has a bit of a wider long ruffle at the hem, and the tiniest bit of extra fabric folded into the shoulders just like boutique abayas from brands. I liked it. No one would guess it came from Lulu. It had a navy blue shayla. ...And the navy blue shayla was still navy blue when I left the store.
..But the abaya wasn't. The abaya is perrwinkle. Perriwinkle is purple. Purple is...outgoing for delving into coloured abayas to say the least. I call it my "Princess Jasmine" abaya. I like to pair it with gold sandals and randomly burst into song and dance while wearing it.

Just kidding. Well...kind of. I mostly tone down and restrain that part my personality for Oman, but back home, I am really not the weirdest, most dramatic person so....it's fine. So, I wore it to take my husband and sister to a garden back in the land far and away. Here is my purple abaya...and some of my garden photos.
...Actually, the flower photos are probably mostly my husband's. And the purse was my sister's and they made me carry a lot so my little purple velvet one was not allowed to come, so you have to forgive me for being so girly, and matchy-matchy with the flowers. The dress was from the Dar Al Atta' charity shop in Ruwi. The pearls were from a charity shop called WIN from the land far-and-away. The gold sandals are from Zara. As mentioned, the abaya is from Lulu. And the gardens are called Butchart, in case, you, like me, think the flower photos are more impressive than the ones of my abaya;).